For peace to flourish, evil must be resisted. But how you resist can make all the difference. Take the temperance movement. Thankfully, not everyone adopted crusader Carrie Nation’s rambunctious methodology. Many others chose peaceful ways to advance the fight against drunkenness and its attendant evils.
Concerned about the women and children who were impoverished by their husbands’ drinking habits, one person chose a more thoughtful approach. Many saloons promoted free lunches for their patrons, counting on the fact that the cost of the food would be more than offset by the resulting alcohol sales. But what they didn’t count on was a woman by the name of Amanda Way, an abolitionist and reformer who hailed from Kansas. Amanda had the temerity to organize poor families, making sure they showed up at the saloon at lunchtime. Taking their seats at the bar, they would eat up all the food.
Face-to-face with a group of hungry women and children, the saloon keepers could no longer ignore the way they were affecting their neighborhoods. Nor could the men who spent their paychecks at the bar enjoy themselves with impunity. Now they at least had to wonder whether they might encounter their own wives and children in the next lunch crew.4
Real peace is built on foundations of justice, and justice can be a costly struggle. As Christians, we are called to pursue it, not to shrink back or ignore the wrongs we see. We can’t fight all the world’s wrongs, of course, but we can do something. Securing the peace by establishing and maintaining justice takes thoughtfulness, persistence, wisdom, courage, generosity, and prayer. If we’re serious about peace, we need to open our hearts to God, asking him what he wants us to do to uphold justice. More
- Amanda Way’s story is told in Catherine Whitmire, Practicing Peace (Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2007), 212–13.